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29 March 2012

Speech by Minister Of State Lee Yi Shyan at the 8th International Green and Energy-Efficient Building Conference 2012

A very good morning to all of you.

1. Let me first thank Vice-Minister Qiu for inviting me to the 8th International Green and Energy-efficient Building Conference 2012. I look forward to learning from my speakers on their thoughts of green designs and energy efficient buildings.

Potential of Building Sector in Reducing Emissions

2. The theme of today’s conference, “Promoting Green Buildings for a Low-Carbon Liveable World”, is timely and apt.

3. First, globally, buildings consume about 40% of total energy and contribute up to 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions . For some developed cities, the building sector can contribute even higher levels of emissions. Last week, Mr Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, was in Singapore when we announced the award of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize to the City of New York. This biennial international award honours outstanding contributions towards the creation of vibrant, liveable and sustainable urban communities around the world. Mayor Bloomberg told me about New York City’s tremendous efforts in reducing carbon emissions from cars and power plants by improving public transport and pedestrian walkways. As a result, emissions from buildings in New York City are as high as 78%.

4. Second, cities around the world are growing rapidly. More than half the world’s population now live in urban areas. By 2050, more than 70% will be living in urban areas . In tandem, we will see more buildings around us.

5. Both these trends demonstrate how important it is to promote green buildings for a low-carbon liveable world.

Greening Singapore’s Buildings

6. Green buildings are not just about saving energy costs and reducing carbon emissions. They can also reduce pollution, waste and environment degradation. Why are these impacts important to us now?

7. Most immediately, the residents in the city will appreciate and benefit from a greener and cleaner city. Medical research has shown that air pollution has raised the cases of asthma, dermatological allergy and other respiratory illnesses seen in hospitals. In Singapore, our study on the impact of air pollution on public health has confirmed detrimental short-term effects of air pollutants on health.

8. This is why, in Singapore, we have looked at the problem holistically, under our Sustainable Singapore Blueprint. Under this Blueprint, we target, among other things, to green 80% of our buildings by 2030 through regulations, incentives and education. Since 2008, we have mandated new buildings to meet environmental sustainability standards set out in our Green Mark rating scheme designed by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore. The scheme assesses our buildings not only on energy efficiency, but also on water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and environmental protection.

9. Just last month, we have reached a significant milestone in Singapore’s green building journey with our 1,000th building achieving Green Mark certification. Our Green Mark buildings generally use 20% to 30% less energy. Our developers have also come to realise the value in Green Mark certification. In fact, our studies have shown that greening existing buildings can increase the capital value of the buildings by 2%.

10. We have put in place various incentive schemes to encourage the industry to green their buildings. For example, developers of new buildings can be awarded bonus gross floor area if they achieve higher Green Mark ratings. This bonus gross floor area incentive is very popular with developers indeed. Developers who have tapped onto this incentive scheme would have saved more than 25% of their energy consumption, or up to $20 per square metres annually.

11. We have also introduced a Green Mark Incentive Scheme for existing buildings of S$100 million, or about 500 million RMB, to partly fund the cost of retrofitting existing buildings to meet Green Mark standards. All of us are aware that the bigger challenge is to retrofit existing buildings to be more energy-efficient.

12. This is because some owners may be reluctant to retrofit their buildings due to the cost of retrofitting and a long payback period, or sheer inertia, or the lack of awareness of green technologies.

13. An example of an existing building which has taken up our incentives for retrofitting is Six Battery Road in Singapore, which will be going for Green Mark Platinum, the highest Green Mark rating. The building owner, CapitaCommercial Trust, is retrofitting the chillers, and expects to achieve significant energy savings of more than 2 million kWh per year and water savings of 6,000 m3 per year. At this rate, they will be able to pay back their investments within 5 to 7 years. This building also has an indoor vertical greenery with a diversified selection of plant species which can be found in the rainforests. These initiatives are something that the tenants value, and allow the owner to improve operating efficiency.

14. Beyond the building sector, we have also enhanced our greenery along our streets, in our housing estates, and parks to create a quality environment to live, play and work in.

15. To ensure we have sufficient lush and landscaped spaces, which provide relief in our densely built-up environment, and to reduce ambient and surface temperatures, we will be increasing the amount of green park space to 4,200 ha by 2020 under our Sustainable Singapore Blueprint.

Greater Collaboration & the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city project

16. In green technology and practices, Singapore is most willing to share and learn from other countries through collaborations. The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city project is an example of how we can achieve more through collaboration between countries. The project was mooted in 2007 by then Singapore Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong and Chinese Premier Mr Wen Jiabao to be “a thriving city which is socially harmonious, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient – a model for sustainable development”. The 30 sq km project is currently in its 4th year of development following its groundbreaking in 2008. It will house 350,000 residents when fully completed in around 2020.

17. The Tianjin Eco-city is designed using the best practices and models in China, Singapore and from around the world. For example, its Master Plan was jointly developed by Chinese and Singapore experts incorporating the best ideas from both sides. Both sides have also jointly formulated a set of 22 quantitative Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), covering environmental protection, social harmony and economic development, to tangibly and comprehensively measure the progress of the Eco-city’s development. The project has achieved good progress over the past 3 years. Companies and residents have started moving into the Eco-city.

18. One of the Eco-city’s KPIs is that all buildings must meet green building standards, which were jointly formulated by experts from China and Singapore’s BCA. BCA also conducts regular green building related training courses for Tianjin officials and industry professionals involved in the Eco-city project to share with them best practices in Singapore and internationally.

19. Other KPIs that will help the Eco-city to reduce its energy usage and carbon emissions include, for example: (a) 90% of trips within the Eco-city should be in the form of “green trips”, that is, non-motorised transport and public transport; (b) renewable energy should account for at least 20% of the energy utilized in the Eco-city; and (c) caps for its carbon emission per unit GDP and per capita daily domestic waste generation. We are confident that by working closely with our Chinese counterparts, Tianjin Eco-city will be able to achieve these KPIs.


20. Today’s conference is a great platform for exchange of best practices. Singapore is supporting this conference with a Singapore-themed half-day conference track that will be held tomorrow morning in parallel with the technical sessions. We are also setting up a Singapore Green Pavilion at the exhibition.

21. Still in the spirit of mutual exchanges and learning, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore and the Centre for Liveable Cities in my Ministry are jointly organising the 3rd World Cities Summit from 1 to 4 July 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore.

22. The Summit is held in conjunction with the 5th Singapore International Water Week and the inaugural CleanEnviro Summit Singapore. More than 3,000 government leaders, policy-makers and industry experts and practitioners from around the world are expected to participate in the summit and related events. I would like to invite all of you to attend the World Cities Summit and related conferences in July 2012 in Singapore.

23. Finally, let me wish everyone here a fruitful conference ahead.

Thank you.

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